Monday, August 17, 2009

Vegetable and fruit tips

  • Never put tomatoes in the fridge. It changes their cell structure and causes them to get mealy. (This is one reason that tomatoes picked green and shipped cold don't ever taste as good as garden tomatoes.) And if you are having a hard time slicing them, sharpen your knife. (Tip from the class: Serrated knives work well, too.)
  • Many vegetables, including corn on the cob, are best cooked in the microwave. You can put two ears in, unshucked, cook for 3 minutes, shuck and remove silk easily, then finish on the grill. Brush with butter or oil with your favorite seasonings before serving.
  • To keep cauliflower white while cooking, add a little milk to the water.
  • For truly clean leeks, chop them first, then give them a bath in cold water and drain in a colander.
  • If you need only 1/2 an onion, save the root half. It will last longer.
  • When tossing a salad with a basic vinaigrette, always make the vinaigrette at least 1/2 hour ahead of time and let the mixture sit to allow the flavors to marry. Pour the vinaigrette on the chopped additions to the greens -- tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, carrots, sunflower seeds, sprouts, etc. -- not directly on the greens, and toss, for a more evenly dressed salad. If you want to plate a salad ahead of time, don't use a vinaigrette. Sprinkle chilled, crisp greens with sea salt, pepper, herbs and a a little fine extra-virgin olive oil, and toss to coat. The salad won't wilt.
  • If you do have to use a plastic bag to store greens, wash and wrap them in dry paper towels. They will keep longer.
  • Romaine and leaf lettuces are loaded with vitamins compared to iceberg. They have has three times as much Vitamin C and six times as much Vitamin A.
  • When buying cabbage, look for heads that appear heavier than their size with crisp leaves.
  • Buy mushrooms before they "open." When stems and caps are attached snugly, mushrooms are truly fresh.
  • When picking a melon, smell it for freshness and ripeness. Check to see that the fruit is heavy for its size and that the spot on the end where it has been plucked from the vine is soft.

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